Bush's surprisingly partisan speech:
George Bush didn't go through a recovery program when he quit drinking, but surely he knows that the first step to shucking any dependency is admitting the problem. In his big speech, he attempted to do just that when he delivered the evening's most memorable line, "America is addicted to oil."
This was a switch from May of 2001 when Ari Fleischer, the president's spokesman, said that the right to consume massive energy resources was "an American way of life." I wasn't expecting any great departure after hearing Bush advisers and allies talk all day about "security" and "optimism" and about how the president was going to "change the tone" (again). But Bush did change the subject, at least a bit. Tomorrow we're all going to be talking about the "cellulosic ethanol" from corn stalks and "switch grass."
On the other hand, Bush put his case in a very Bushian way, presenting it as a pain-free alternative to the awful status quo. Only the corn stalk will suffer as we remake a huge sector of the economy and convert to clean, politically innocent fuel sources. None of us have to trade in our SUV's, drive less, or turn down the thermostat. The president says that in six years cars using the new ethanol will be competitive with gas-burning ones. By 2025, he pledges, America can reduce its dependence on Middle Eastern oil by 75 percent. His aides argue that technology makes this all possible. It sounds too good to be true, and almost certainly is.